Jay Leno on Comedy in the Era of Cancel Culture: 'You Have to Change the Material to The Times You Live In'

Jay Leno stops by PEOPLE Every Day and shares why he's chosen to evolve his comedy in recent years

Legendary late night talk show host Jay Leno has learned that some topics are no laughing matter.

"I think it's like any other thing, you either change, or die" says Leno on the latest episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast hosted by Janine Rubenstein. During the interview, The Tonight Show alum opened up about the new season of his hit car show Jay Leno's Garage, his storied career and why he's changed his bit in recent years.

After enduring intense public scrutiny over a history of past remarks and insensitive jokes about the AAPI community, the 71-year-old recently issued an apology to MANNA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans). As for how and why he's changed his tune, he told the podcast that his evolution in the comedy world is like that of an athlete. "In football, you have certain rules. And when the rules change, if you don't conform to them, you're out of the game."

He admitted that for a time sexist, racist, and homophobic jokes were assumed by many comedians to be fair play, but that "Now, everybody has a voice. You have to change the material to the times you live in."

He added that his job is to make people laugh, not to make them angry. "My attitude is, 'look, these are the new rules," he said. "You want to adapt. If you don't, fine. Don't get up and tell jokes then."'

Jay Leno's Garage airs Wednesdays on CNBC at 10pm ET/PT.

Check out more episodes of PEOPLE Every Day, airing on iHeartMedia, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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